Battle of the Top Two
Gael’s Great At The Free’s But Not Enough To Save The Game
Image c/o Erick Doxey, Inlander.com
By Vivian Hill
This was not an easy game for anyone involved, and the West Coast Conference Championship in Las Vegas did not treat the Gaels well during the final game against Gonzaga. The Gaels were on a roll from the game against BYU, taking a major lead in the second half. However, that was a short lived victory when Gonzaga went in and swept the Gaels away. In the first three minutes of the game the Gaels fought hard, but no points were scored. This game, by far, was the most technically stacked game with Logan Johnson pulling through with the first shot of the game. The team worked as one cohesive unit after Johnson started off strong. The Zags pulled an early lead, which put more pressure on the Gaels for points. However the Gaels were unable to control the tempo and speed of the plays, which started the domino effect that led to the Gael’s demise. This forced the Gaels to work both sides of the court, while freshman Aidan Mahaney had to handle making plays. A natural scorer, he really had to force his way through the Bulldog’s defense.
Freshman Joshua Jefferson made his major appearance, starting with a strong rim attack. With a start of making a name for himself while Mitchell Saxen and Kyle Bowen were struggling. Meanwhile, Mahaney’s need to be aggressive the entire game was delivered, while being surrounded by team veterans. The tempo and speed were not in the Gael’s favor, they were hesitant to shoot, and allowed the Zags to pull away. Also pushing the Gaels into unfavorable rotations, forcing 5 turnovers that made the Gaels struggle for rhythm. Despite all those obstacles, the Gaels were making almost every free throw that was given to them. They took their time on the line and calculated every shot. However, this would not be enough to overcome the lack of toughness, which was quite unusual for the Gaels. Within the first half, the Gaels struggled to keep the plays together, thus further pushing them into taking too much time to shoot.Thus at the end of the first half Gonzaga led the score at 37 points with only 19 points for the Gaels.
The main goal for the Gaels in the second was to lock in and get a better handle on the ball. At 18:08, Bowen brought in a bucket, and got the Gaels moving again. The Zags continued their rundown of closing all windows for the Gaels, making the Gaels struggle moving forward. Breaking in at 15:55 was Jefferson with a big 3 point shot, another attempt to pull the Gaels out of their major funk that had taken over the game. With only 53.2 seconds left on the clock, Johnson secures a basket. He then goes back for more and secures a and secures a 3-pointer-pointer at 34.0, and another basket with 1.3 seconds left. This was not enough to save the Gaels, with the game coming to an end score of 77 for the Gonzaga Bulldogs and 51 points for the Saint Mary’s Gaels.
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Ryan Ford '23,